You can learn a great deal from entering a first grade class – the majority of it from the kids. Today I went into my daughter’s class to talk about what I do for a living. The idea of course, is to educate them about different occupations – but I ended up taking away some important lessons myself. Things I already know to be true, but that were reaffirmed by viewing them from the eyes of a 6 or 7 year old.
1 – It’s All About the Passion
Kids naturally want to do what they are passionate about. They understand this at a very basic level, something we as adults could really use a dose of. One of the key points I continually preach about here and whenever I talk about work, is the importance of passion and talent. If you have a passion for something and you can find a way to share that in a way that benefits others, you will be successful. That is guaranteed.
2 – Make Your Message Fit the Audience
One of my favorite movie lines is from Denzel Washington’s character in the move Philadelphia – “Now, explain it to me like I’m a four-year-old.” Talking about my various jobs – Web and software, writing, speaking, cartooning – I bet you can guess which one was the most interest to the first graders. I focused a majority of my talk on the cartooning work I do, and then explained the other stuff in a way they would understand. Kids are extremely smart and inquisitive. I was floored by some of the incredibly insightful questions they asked. But I toned down much of the message to meet them at their level. Then I let them bring it back up to a point were they were learning and understanding. When it comes to explaining what you offer, remember to make the message fit the audience. If you can easily explain your marketing message to a kid, then your prospects will have no problem getting it. Your customers should feel enlightened by your message, not stupid.
3 – Details Can Spark a Conversation
Kids notice details. They take the time to really see things and notice little nuances. The fact that all of my cartoon characters had one big eye and one little eye was both funny and interesting to them. It sparked a conversion on personal style, that led to unique abilities and the way we all view the world. It wasn’t planned, but was wonderful. Many times we go into a meeting or event with a preconceived notion of what will happen. What we’ll say, do, and our oh, so important elevator speech. But many of the best and most lucrative conversations stem from those minor details, those little things we don’t even notice sometimes. After hearing the same boring networking conversations, having a real discussion about some interesting little detail can really launch a relationship. Take the time to notice the minor details when talking to others. Just the fact that you noticed sometimes is enough to create a new energy in an otherwise boring conversation.
So What Did I Take Away From This?
That approaching our work with a child-like wonder can be extremely valuable? That SpongeBob seems to be universally loved? That one child’s dog is named Daisy, too, or that another’s cousin lives in Texas, like I did at one time? That folks like reading cute stories with kids in it? Yes, to all of those. But the best lesson was this – apparently I didn’t learn everything I needed to know in kindergarten. First grade, it seems, has a lot to offer too.